Nightwing – The Chuck Dixon trades: A Knight In Bludhavem, Rough Justice, Love And Bullets, A Darker Shade Of Justice, The Hunt For Oracle, Big Guns, On The Razor’s Edge, Year One
Although most non-comic book fans wouldn’t be able to pick Nightwing out of a line-up of Dancing With The Stars contestants, he’s actually one of DC’s most important characters. He’s Robin, or to be more accurate, the first Robin. (For those of you who are counting, we’re on number 5 right now). Currently, he’s Batman. Well, one of them. Long story. And not a good one.
Although there had been couple of mini-series featuring the character, this was the first Nightwing ongoing, and it ended up lasting over 150 issues, which is an eternity for a superhero comic book these days. The writer for the first 70 or so of those issues was Chuck Dixon, and a strong case could be argued that the series ended the minute he left the book.
The main reason is that no matter how dark, and how gritty Nightwing’s adventures got, Dixon never forgot that this was a character that thrived on enjoying life to the fullest. He was fun, and his outlook on life was fun. That enjoyment of life is what gives (and still gives) this character such a unique place in the DCU. I also must mention the kinetic intensity of Scott McDaniel’s artwork in much of this run. No one draws acrobatics like McDaniel, and to this day I don’t think anyone has drawn this character better.
Nightwing – Mobbed Up, Renegade, Brothers In Blood, Love And War, The Lost Year, Freefall
Unfortunately, the praise I gave Dixon’s run can’t be shared with most of the other
writers who followed him. The book quickly devolved into a dark, and thoroughly un-entertaining depress-fest. I like grim and gritty as much of the next guy, but this was the wrong character to deconstruct. This book kept getting worse, and worse, and I’m still not sure why I kept collecting this as long as I did.
Outsiders – Looking For Trouble, Sum Of All Evil, Wanted, Crisis Intervention, The Good Fight, Pay As You Go, Checkout
I wrote in an earlier post how much I loved the original run of Batman and the Outsiders as a kid. And although there had been several attempts to resurrect the team, most of them were awful at best. Until now. Judd Winick’s version of the Outsiders was (and still to my mind is) everything modern superhero comics should be: Edgy, entertaining, and well-executed. Not only did he find a home for long-misused characters like Arsenal and Black Lightning, he created a flock of new and interesting characters that are still used by DC today. The book had tonnes of action, and some well-planned character development. Although the book didn’t take long to get sucked into the vortex of continuity-nightmare that is the DC universe (The Crisis Intervention arc should be avoided), it started extremely well, and most of this series holds up quite well today.
Plastic Man – 80 Page Giant Annual, Jack Cole & Plastic Man: Forms Stretched To Their Limit
Plastic Man was, and still is, one of the great comic book characters; he’s a character that could only be created for comics, and Jack Cole’s rubbery creation still stands up today as an example of how fun superhero comics can be. And while each of these reprint collections (though the second volume actually is more of a biography of Cole than anything else) have some nice moments, there is also a lot of cheese to wade through, and you’d be better served by picking up one of DC’s Plastic Man Archive hardcovers.
Next up: Power Girl, The Question, and Robin.